India bargained hard to include 489 items belonging to these sectors in the ‘negative list’, the officials said in response to the criticism by some southern States, particularly Kerala.

The India-ASEAN free trade agreement (FTA) in goods safeguards the interests of domestic farmers, particularly of those involved in production of spices, coffee and palm oil, senior Commerce and Industry Ministry officials said here.

It had also been ensured that those employed in textiles, auto and chemical industries, which have a strong presence in the southern States, also did not get adversely affected in the long-run.

Hard bargain

India bargained hard to include 489 items belonging to these sectors in the ‘negative list’, the officials said in response to the criticism by some southern States, particularly Kerala.

The items in the ‘negative list’ include marine and fish products, coconut, cashew, vanilla, nutmeg, cardamom, coriander, cumin, ginger, turmeric, sago, copra, palm nuts, coconut oil and tobacco.

Edge over India

Similarly, rubber plantations have also been provided protection by placing natural rubber in the ‘negative list’.

A large number of textiles and auto products also included the list to safeguard the interests of the two industries in which some ASEAN nations have an edge over India.

On critical items of interest to India, tariff cut would be effected with reference to prevailing rates of 2005, which were in the range of 80 per cent for crude palm oil, 90 per cent for refined palm oil, 100 per cent for coffee and black tea and 70 per cent for pepper, the government officials said.

India’s commitment for tariff reduction by 2019 would entail a tariff of 37.5 per cent for crude palm oil at the end of this period.

Similarly, for refined palm oil, coffee and tea, the tariffs would reach a level of 45 per cent by 2019; for pepper, the tariff would be a level of 50 per cent by 2019, they explained.

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